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4 Oct, 2007 11:15

Russians recall White House Siege of '93

In October, 1993, Russia was in a deep constitutional crisis. Moscow's White House (the Parliament Building) was under siege. Tanks rolled out and people poured out in crowds onto the streets.

The Russian constitutional crisis of 1993 began on September 21, when the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, dissolved the country's legislature, which opposed his moves to push forward unpopular reforms. The Supreme Soviet Council was dominated by anti-liberal forces, and they were resisting the reforms.

The lawmakers barricaded themselves inside the White House. A mass uprising erupted on October 2.

Meantime, Communist supporters attempted to regain power, storming the Ostankino TV-Centre to try to get their message across to the nation.

Yeltsin ordered the situation to be solved by force. On October 3rd and 4th, the military threw its support behind the President, and besieged the White House.

Tanks fired at the building. The lawmakers were forced to surrender.

In the months following the storming of the White House, Yeltsin pushed through his new Constitution. Russia emerged as a joint presidential-parliamentary system in theory, but substantial power would now rest in the president's hands.

To this day, Russians are divided on who was right and who was wrong during the crisis. Many Russians believe the country was close to civil war back in 1993, but some say the government's use of force was unjustified.

According to official sources, around 150 people were killed in the siege of the White House, but unofficial estimates are much higher.

Today, 14 years later, Communist supporters gathered in Moscow to pay their respects to those who died during the siege.